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How Bad Should We Feel When the Willfully Unvaccinated Die?

John Scalzi

This comes up because over the last few weeks there’s been an uptick in news stories about people who chose not to be vaccinated dying of COIVD, and on their deathbeds — or alternately, just before an intubation robbed them of the ability to meaningfully communicate with others — they expressed regret for not having got a vaccination earlier, which statistically speaking would have very likely kept them from dying. The story noted above is representative: Right-wing media personality Dick Farrel, who spent time on his radio show railing against the COVID vaccine for all the usual right-wing reasons, died of the virus and apparently told a friend before his demise that he wished he had gotten the vaccine. By then, of course, it was too late.

Dick Farrel didn’t have to die. He knew a vaccine existed, he presumably had access to the data that showed its efficacy in preventing the disease taking hold in the large majority of people, and minimizing the damage it does in the minority who still contracted the virus despite vaccination. Yet he affirmatively chose not to get the vaccine, and he went out of his way to convince others not to get the vaccine as well. He’s dead now, felled by a virus whose worst damage he could have easily avoided. How bad should we feel about his death?

Indeed, here in the second half of 2021, how bad should we feel about the COVID-related death of anyone who still chooses not to get vaccinated — with the full knowledge of the consequences of contracting COVID, and the spread of the rather-more-infectious Delta variant of the disease, and the ease of acquiring a shot (which here in the US is free to get, incidentally)? Is there a certain point where one throws up one’s hands, says, “well, you knew better, didn’t you?” and washes one’s hands of them?

As with so many things in this world, I think it depends.

Let’s begin by acknowledging a moral hazard inherent here. Mainly: there’s a difference between wondering how badly one should feel about the willfully unvaccinated dying of COVID, and hoping that they do. If you are in the latter camp, remember that wishing death on people almost always makes you the asshole in the scenario. I personally make an effort not to wish people dead, even as I acknowledge I have a list of people I think the planet would be better off without. I won’t mourn their sorry asses when they’re gone. I’m not going to hope they get pushed in front of a bus, however. And I’m not going to do any of that pushing myself.

With that acknowledged, I think we can separate the currently unvaccinated into three major categories:

1. Those who legitimately cannot be vaccinated: Children under the age of 12, and those over that age who have medical reasons that keep them from being vaccinated are generally blameless if they catch the virus. You should feel bad for them if they die, and if you additionally feel a bit pissed off that the willfully unvaccinated made their lives harder by not being vaccinated when they easily could be, then that’s perfectly all right. Because they did! And that’s an asshole thing to do.

2. Those who could be vaccinated but aren’t because they’re ignorant and/or have a head full of bullshit: This is the largest group, and personally I have some sympathy for them. Look, it’s hard to remember this sometimes, but lots of people don’t feel obliged to follow the news of the day with any assiduousness. When they do, they often get it from sources that a) have trained them over years to mistrust information that does not come from them, b) are lying to them because they have a financial motive for doing so. This informational ecosystem of bullshit has gone out of its way to frame a viral pandemic as just another political issue, which it’s fundamentally not. A virus doesn’t give a shit about your politics, only whether it can gain a foothold in your body.

But for millions of people, that framing has taken hold and at this point it’s impossible to shake. Your cousin/high school friend/neighbor railing about masks and “vaccination passports” on Facebook has been fed bullshit and accepts the idea that only the people feeding them bullshit are truly “objective” and trustworthy. We can go on and on about how that happened and the ultimate culpability of your cousin/high school friend/neighbor in their own ignorance and pleasure in pouring bullshit into their own head. But, for the moment, accept that they have been lied to, and are unfortunately not particularly well-equipped to break out of the framing that’s been reinforced to them, over and over, by the media figures and politicians they trusted (mind you, they will likely be furious if you point out the latter bit to them; they’re the free-thinkers, you see).

So when your cousin/high school friend/neighbor and people like them who choose not to get vaccinated contract COVID and die, while the temptation is to be all, welp, what did you expect, you fucked around and found out, entertain the notion that, alongside anything else about the situation, they have been victimized by people who largely knew better. There are people who know that a virus doesn’t care about politics, but decided to frame it as a political issue because doing so ultimately allows them to sell pillows and nutritional powders and reverse mortgages and gold coins and whatnot to the people they terrified and made angry and ignorant, and because they think that in the authoritarian future they are working so hard to bring about, somehow they will be the ones wearing the boots instead of being crushed under a heel like everyone else.

You can be sorry that because a vast right-wing propaganda machine thought it was more important to grasp toward power than to value human life, your cousin/high school friend/neighbor/whomever is now dead. Hopefully you will be motivated to avenge their death.

(There are people out there in the US not attached to the right wing who are also steering people away from vaccines, which I am noting here simply so people don’t bring up the point in the comments. Sure, they exist. With that said, let’s not pretend that the high correlation between the parts of the US that are deemed “vaccine hesitant,” and which parts of the US that voted for Trump in 2020, is some sort of wild coincidence).

3. Those who could have been vaccinated but weren’t because they were busy selling the lie: Dick Farrel, by all appearances, falls into that category. Not only did he apparently dine on the bullshit, he was also serving it up on his radio show and on (ugh) Newsmax. He was actively demonizing health experts and encouraging people not to get vaccinated. Who knows how many people found themselves infected, hospitalized, and dead because of his actions, and the actions of others like him in media and politics reinforcing each others’ bullshit. He went out of his way to peddle a lie and endanger the health of others, because among other things he thought there was some coin in it. I hope he brought a couple of coins for the ferryman when he went. That’s all the benefit he’s going to get out of them at this point.

My reaction to the Dick Farrels of the world is: I’m sorry their friends lost a friend, and I’m sorry for all the people they fed bullshit to who are currently in danger of contracting a dangerous but easily preventable virus because he encouraged them not to protect themselves with a simple, safe and efficient vaccine. If his death and deathbed conversion to the efficacy of vaccines serves as a useful rebuttal to all his previous bullshit on the subject, so much the better. Beyond that, I wouldn’t have wished him dead, and I’m glad he’s no longer able to tell other people not to get vaccinated. It’s too bad the former was required for the latter, but, well. Here we are. If it takes more deaths like his for it to sink in, at least they will not be entirely useless deaths. This is about as kindly as I can put that.

In any event: If you haven’t been vaccinated yet and can get vaccinated, please go do it. Now is a good time. A fair number of unvaccinated people are spending their last moments wishing they had gotten vaccinated; nearly all of the vaccinated, on the other hand, are nowhere near their last moments because of COVID. No one’s wondering how to feel about their deaths. Get vaccinated and stick around, and in doing so make life a little less risky for the people who legitimately cannot be vaccinated. It’s, literally, your choice.

— JS

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

117 replies on “How Bad Should We Feel When the Willfully Unvaccinated Die?”

Notes:

1. Because talking about vaccines is unfortunately a political issue, the Mallet is out. Please behave and be respectful of others.

2. This is not a place to peddle vaccine-related bullshit and I will Mallet any that shows up, and I will err on the side of Malleting with regard to what constitutes “vaccine-related bullshit.” We can acknowledge the vaccines are not a silver bullet and that a very small number of people might have breakthrough infections, and also a very small number of people may have side effects, while also acknowledging that for the vast majority of people, the vaccines are safe, effective and beneficial in protecting against the virus and minimizing harm when a breakthrough infection occurs. Having accepted this as read, it doesn’t need to be argued endlessly here.

3. If you think it’s all right to wish people dead, maybe keep it to yourself, or at least out of this thread.

4. What about those who were vaccinated but encourage others not to get vaccinated? Fuck those dudes, and also, that’s slightly off-topic for this comment thread, so let’s generally table that for now.

I have two emotions I seem to teeter between. The first that I feels unhumanitarian of me says- You had the chance to and even- dare I say the obligation to get the vaccine- so why are we wasting our health care tax dollars trying to save people who wouldn’t listen to the health community in the first place. No vaccine, no health care foe Covid. The other side is imagine the good that the people dying do, to get people vaccinated- by swallowing their pride- and with their very lasts breaths- tell the world about being vaccinated. I just don’t know what to feel except compassion- because it is how I am built. But- dang.

In my mind, we should always feel bad. I believe that nobody deserves to die. No matter what they do on earth. No matter what crimes (moral or criminal) they commit – they do not deserve punishment.

Saying that- it does not mean they should go unpunished. I hate anti-vax people like Duck and Tucker with a passion that is unrivaled. They deceive and willfully lie to harm others. To purposefully go out there to make the community worse off. I want the book thrown at them and for the worst offenders for them to see the inside of a jail cell.

But even I want not a single one of them to get sick. Absolutely not get in the hospital. Nobody deserves death.

Even for the worst of the worst – They should always be welcomed back with open arms if they decide to get vaccinated. Even if too late.
Because that genuine welcoming embrace may save the life of someone watching.

You’re a much better person than I am.

The moral culpability for people who have knowingly spread anti-vax bullshit is without limit, without ceiling, depthless and vast.

They have knowingly and deliberately endangered the lives and health of people who cannot be vaccinated, or for whom vaccines don’t work as well: e.g., children, and the immuno-compromised. They are mass-murderers.

I wish the Typhoid Mary laws were still on the books, which could then be thrown at Carlson et al hard enough to dent their skulls.

Slacktivist had an excellent post about anecdotes of the repentent unvaccinated, and the ways these narratives can unfortunately serve as a way for the in-group (in this case, the vaccinated) to high-five each other, with no particular benefit for persuading the out-group — in fact, it can have the opposite effect. Which is not to say that these stories don’t matter . . . but the short form is, resist the temptation to gloat. Let these stories do their work among the out-group, without the in-group trying to push them.

I agree with your three general categories, but I’d respectfully suggest that you might add a fourth one, or possibly a sub-category in #2.

There are racial and ethnic minorities in the US who have in decades past been subject to unethical medical treatments/experiments that in some cases left them sterile, permanently crippled or dead. And not all that long ago, either; the Tuskegee syphilis study was terminated less than 40 years ago, well within living memory of a sizeable number of folks currently alive.

And as much as I would wish that everyone get vaccinated against COVID, I have to say that I can understand the hesitation/reluctance of folks who have been subject to such appalling treatment in the past to get in line for a shot. We are ourselves to blame for their reluctance, and I just can’t blame them for it.

So possibly we might add another category to the list of folks who haven’t gotten vaccinated, the people who are understandably skeptical of medical treatment pushed on them by the white man. I hope we can overcome that skepticism, but I recognize that we and our ancestors own the responsibility for it.

I think there are two additional crews of low-vaccination/unvaccinated people:
1. those who are hard to reach with the vaccine (due to elderly homebound/near-homebound status, or those who are juggling two jobs and kids and who are living in “deserts” without a lot of awareness of or easy access to information about when/where vaccines will be available – or where the vaccine times correspond to when they’re working; there are a bunch in various places in NYC that people have been trying really hard to figure out how to get the vaccine to, but it’s honestly tricky)(there’s some overlap here with people that some voter suppression laws are targeting – the assumption that people can get time off work for things like voting/vaccination, or the assumption that people work regular office hours and not night shift plus taking care of kids during the day between naps, or two jobs that have changing schedules every single week: the “normal free hours” assumptions are broken assumptions and we haven’t quite finished fixing them in the vaccine clinic systems yet, although again, some people are working on it)
2. those who have a long racial history of being experimented on by the medical community, near-universally to their specific detriment, and who are therefore less enthusiastic about trust in this case.

There is a fourth category of the unvaccinated that deserves recognition: Those who want to be vaccinated but are inhibited for economic reasons, e.g., they are unable—or don’t know how—to obtain the vaccine on a schedule compatible with their jobs, or they are afraid that post-vaccine side effects will force them to take unpaid time off from work.

@Colonel Snuggledorf — those are the ones who break my heart, because their fear is rooted not so much in the bullshit lies of right-wing media, but in the utterly real crimes of the past. Essentially, the voice telling them it isn’t safe to get vaccinated is that of white supremacy.

With you on the “not wishing folks dead” part but I’m pretty squarely in the “you fucked around and found out” camp because, yes, their info systems are bad but they revel in being assholes and yelling about “mah freedoms” while often devoting not inconsiderable time to denying others their freedoms. The overlap between the non-vaccinated, Trump voters, and white evangelicals is… not insignificant.

And far-right (and some not so far-right) white evangelicals are not just wilfully risking their own lives, they are perfectly willing to kill those who can’t get vaccinated, and they’ll refused to feel guilty about it, too. Too often we see the phenomenon of them not caring until anything unless it affects them peresonally and even then, they’re pretty good at shuffling off the blame or being assholes about others pain anyway.

It’s them & their egos in the service of pissing off the “liberals” and spewing bile and self righteousness. Not going to Nelson “ha-ha” them to their faces, just going to try to manage my rage that the Repubican party has encouraged, and US culture generally plus the non-rightwing “MSM” media in particular have enabled this behavior over the past 50 years.

Am I angry? Yeah, pretty much enraged, me.

Because this has deep roots and there are plenty of people who should and did know better, but hey, “short term gains” amirite?

Thank you. I will not rejoice, but my sorrow will be acknowledged and limited. As for the daily reminders my hometown obits are littered with the deaths of youngish men who had so much more life to live. And my state is deep red.

I strongly agree that everybody who can get vaccinated and has not yet done so absolutely should get vaccinated ASAP. But they should also be very very careful to avoid being indoors among people who might not be vaccinated, and wear a good mask, fitted with care, during essential indoor activities.

Unfortunately, even if ALL the unvaccinated people age 12+ in the US were to get their first dose of an mRNA vaccine tomorrow, it would take many weeks for the benefits of their belated wisdom to have much impact on what’s happening in the hospitals.

One of the reasons the Delta variant is more dangerous is because it takes two doses of an mRNA vaccine to get much protection. In the original Clinical Trials of the mRNA vaccines the graphs for number of people getting sick with vaccine versus placebo started going in different directions a couple weeks after the first dose. Data from various countries indicate that with Delta you don’t get much protection until after your second dose.

So everybody who gets their first dose of mRNA vaccine now needs to continue being super-duper careful until two weeks after their second dose.

No, not wishing them dead, not even Farrel and his ilk. But I am not even playing the world’s smallest violin in mourning. He made his choice and he paid the price.

Next.

The worst to be are the DeSantis and Carlson group, who got vaccinated themselves, yet actively and deliberately are spreading willful lies for their own benefit. For Tucker, it’s rating and money. For DeSantis, well, he is running for re-election and hoping to run for President. The cynicism and sheer evil of them and others like them cannot be overstated.

I’ll close with one of several relevant verses from Dylan’s “Masters of War” that seem appropriate:

“Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul.”

Sorry, but I don’t have much room for sympathy in my heart for those peddlers of misinformation who suffer a fate they could have easily avoided and now regret their actions on their deathbeds. I have lots of sympathy for their friends and families, but for them …. not so much.

I am far more troubled and bothered by the fact that their actions have created a breeding ground for Covid-19 mutations such as the Delta and Lambda variants …. and by what may be coming down the pike before enough people wise up and get vaccinated. It is only a matter of time before a variant pops up that the current vaccines will NOT work against and then we will be in real trouble, especially if it combines with the increased transmissibility of the Delta and Lambda variants.

(oh, also, we don’t know what the reason is – a whole bunch of people on immunosuppressants, a time-based tapering effect from early initial vaccinations, delta giving more serious infections to fragile people, etc. – but in July in Oklahoma, with a 66% vaccination rate for those over 65, the hospitalized-although-vaccinated number in July for those 65+ was 114 and the parallel hospitalized-unvaccinated number was 149 – so, even for those in the oldest age group, there appears to be a significant positive effect from vaccination – but 114 is still a bad number. All the numbers strongly support vaccination [and ludicrously so: I mean: 4 18-35 year olds hospitalized with full vaccination, which may just be people on full immunosuppressants who therefore didn’t get a good vaccine response; 70 hospitalized unvaccinated; 4 vs. 70 come ON]; but for anyone on the older side and vaccinated, it may be worth being a little extra-cautious around delta plus until the reasons for these breakthrough hospitalizations get sorted out.)

While I have no sympathy for people who wish to compete for the Darwin Award through willful ignorance, a COVID death is not something I would wish on anyone. My sympathies lie with those they drag down with them, people they infect, people they drag down with their deadly influence, and friends and families they leave behind.

Then there is also the problem that such people are allowing COVID be prolonged and have more of a chance to mutate into something worse than Delta. They advocate for the “right” to be spreaders and ignore the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, …”

I have a friend who can’t get the vaccination (she has cancer). She seldom goes out, seldom sees anyone, and lives like the hermitiest hermit you’ve ever known. When she does see people or go out she has on a mask and stays well away from maskless folks.

It’s because of people like her that I have no patience for the willfully unvaccinated. The sooner we get herd immunity the sooner Barbara can go back to normal life. I’m with John here. While I won’t push them in front of a bus, I also won’t mourn their passing.

Kind of reminds me of my job, where I tell people OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN NOT TO DO THE THING, IF YOU DO THE THING YOU WILL NOT GET WHAT YOU WANT AND BE EXTREMELY UNHAPPY. I feel like with these people it’s the same: WE TRIED TO TELL YOU, OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN. What the hell else were we supposed to do? This was the choice you decided to make. We tried to tell you it’d be THIS BAD but you would not listen. Now you learned the hard way. The fatal way.

At this point, all we can do is hope that others learn from their bad example. That’s about the one way to make any of this less hideous.

One more category of unvaccinated (hopefully it is diminishing): people who want to be vaccinated but are in areas or among cohorts that are historically hard to reach or hard to treat. From what I’ve been reading, this is a not-insignificant part of the unvaxed populace.

There’s an element I think you’ve left out, and it’s the one that primarily motivates me whenever one of those deliberate deniers dies: the threat to me, personally, has been slightly diminished.

I’m a 72-year-old with high blood pressure and with a heart attack and pneumonia not too far in my past. I’m also overweight and had several bouts of pleurisy in my youth. That puts me in a higher risk category than most.

Fortunately, I live in a polity, British Columbia, where we have largely been serious about the bug. Most of us have now had two shots of Pfizer and we don’t have to wear masks or socially distance ourselves anymore (except for one region where the delta seems to be on the march).

But the border is now open again, and there is a risk of more Americans showing up with fake vaccination certificates (and facing $20,000 fines if caught). One of them could bring the bug to me. Sure, I’d get that free socialized health care that terrifies so many in your country, but I still might end up dead or long-term sick.

So, when one of these deniers keels over and dies, I say, “There’s another one that can’t harm me,” and I can’t say I’m sorry for it.

But there is another category, the people who feel the vaccine isn’t safe, hasn’t been tested, etc. I had serious doubts when the vaccine was first announced; I used to work in cancer research and know what it takes to get a new drug approved. This happened way too fast.

But I educated myself. I looked into mRNA and learned the history of how long they have been studying it. I found out how it works. I listened to legit doctors and people who know more about it than I do.

And I got my vaccine the minute I was eligible. So those people… they need to put some work in. We know what is at stake. Waiting until you are mourning your spouse or child or parent or best friend… it’s foolish. Spend an hour learning how this works and why it is safe. And then get vaccinated.

I know an immunocompromised teen who drove 10 hours to be vaccinated. He knew the risks very well, but an infection would have meant a death sentence. He knew he could never trust enough of his countrymen to value human life over their malign virtue signaling.

He ended up in the ICU, touch-and-go for five days. He would do it again. That is what refusing to live in fear looks like, not effete posturing about the supposed tyranny of a protective mask.

Vaccine refusers has told us what they want. They have told us their plans for achieving it. When any one reaps the fruits of their efforts, nothing but congratulations are in order.

What makes me the most angry about those who refuse to be vaccinated is that they are not just hurting themselves and/or those they convince to also shun vaccination. They’re hurting all of us because of how variants work. Their behavior raises the odds of another variant becoming dominant that isn’t affected by the vaccine, and then we’re all back where we were before there was a vaccine.

My general reaction when anyone in category 3 dies is “I do not rejoice at anyone’s death, but there are those I will not mourn.”

I agree with Col. Snuggledorf, et. al. about the fourth category, adding in the Latinx/Hispanic immigrant population that have been so systematically traumatized by Trumpist thuggery that they don’t have any trust in anything that any part of the government says, and have an understandable fear that doing anything that involves officialdom and paperwork will get them thrown out of the country/into a camp, possibly without their children.

The recent incident that somewhat angered me was the story of H. Scott Apley, a Texas politician who was hospitalized because of COVID two days after posting his latest anti vaccination screed and died soon afterwards. The article revealed that his wife and five year old son have also tested positive. I’m not sure what kind of person it makes me, but my sympathy (and hope that it he does not have a serious reaction) goes out to the five year old, who could not have received the vaccination.

https://www.star-telegram.com/news/coronavirus/article253276493.html?fbclid=IwAR1zFw1fEZ01I4BvuvNx0TQjqPkl8X0izTPU-E4icalc_u-1HDJipQ6xdKY

Stupid people do stupid things. Sometimes those stupid things end up killing them.

It’s unfortunate, but do I feel bad about them dying? No. Who I feel bad for are the people who might be exposed to said stupid scumbaggery and get sick/die through no fault of their own. I feel bad for myself and for others who are being held hostage by antivax and antimask morons. Most of all, I feel bad for frontline workers who risk their lives trying to save the worthless existences of posturing covidiots.

But the Dick Farrels of this world? Nah.

I think I fall in line with most of the people in this comment section:

I think there are a couple of sub-categories of un-vaccinated: those who have legitimate historical concerns about being test subjects and those who have valid economic concerns about being able to take time from work to get vaccinated or deal with any side effects.

Outside of that, this is also my opinion: “They have knowingly and deliberately endangered the lives and health of people who cannot be vaccinated, or for whom vaccines don’t work as well: e.g., children, and the immuno-compromised. They are mass-murderers.”

And I’ll add that my partner had an STEMI (the heart attack that doctors call a “widowmaker” heart attack) 5 weeks ago. We’ve been told that if he gets Covid, he’ll die. Even as a vaccinated person. Not “could die”. Not “might die”. It’s 90+% that if he gets Covid, that’s it.

So right now I’m in a constant simmering state of rage at people who can get vaccinated who refuse to do so, who flaunt their gddmned ignorance about the vaccine, and who additionally are refusing to wear masks or distance from others (and there’s significant overlap in those groups). People like Gov. Abbott and Gov. DeSantis who are actually legally forbidding mask mandates are vile human beings and I wish I believed in hell so I could condemn them to rot in it for eternity.

Not that I’m angry or bitter or anything.

No one deserves to to die, however electing to use your right to refuse a vaccine just doesn’t put yourself at risk but also those around you. So if you have the chance to take this free vaccine (is that a first for the US?) your an ass if you refuse.

To put this in context, here in the UK and also the US the vaccine is easily available.
I have family in Japan and vaccinations are still mainly being done by companies for staff. Housewives and other dependents are still having to wait. And yes vaccine hesitancy is still strong in Japan.

Darwin Awards:

Inability to reproduce
Nominee must be dead or rendered sterile
This may be subject to dispute. Potential awardees may be out of the gene pool because of age; others have already reproduced before their deaths. To avoid debates about the possibility of in-vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, or cloning, the original Darwin Awards book applied the following “deserted island” test to potential winners: If the person were unable to reproduce when stranded on a deserted island with a fertile member of the opposite sex, he or she would be considered sterile. Winners of the award, in general, either are dead or have become unable to use their sexual organs.

“Excellence”
Astoundingly stupid judgement
The candidate’s foolishness must be unique and sensational, likely because the award is intended to be funny. A number of foolish but common activities, such as smoking in bed, are excluded from consideration. In contrast, self-immolation caused by smoking after being administered a flammable ointment in a hospital and specifically told not to smoke is grounds for nomination. One “Honorable Mention” (a man who attempted suicide by swallowing nitroglycerine pills, and then tried to detonate them by running into a wall) is noted to be in this category, despite being intentional and self-inflicted (i.e. attempted suicide), which would normally disqualify the inductee.

Self-selection
Cause of one’s own demise
Killing a friend with a hand grenade would not be eligible, but killing oneself while manufacturing a home made chimney-cleaning device from a grenade would be eligible. To earn a Darwin Award, one must have killed oneself, or rendered oneself sterile; merely causing death to a third party is insufficient.

Maturity
Capable of sound judgement
The nominee must be at least past the legal driving age and free of mental defect (Northcutt considers injury or death caused by mental defect to be tragic, rather than amusing, and routinely disqualifies such entries). After much discussion, a small category regarding deaths below this age limit also exists. Entry into this category requires that the peers of the candidate be of the opinion that the actions of the person in question were above and beyond the limits of reason.

However, in 2011, the awards targeted a 16-year-old boy in Leeds who died stealing copper wiring (the standard minimum driving age in Great Britain being 17). In 2012, Northcutt made similar light of a 14-year-old girl in Brazil who was killed while leaning out of a school bus window; however, she was “disqualified” for the award itself because of the likely public objection due to the girl’s age, which Northcutt asserts is based on “magical thinking”.

Veracity
Event must be verified
The story must be documented by reliable sources: e.g., reputable newspaper articles, confirmed television reports, or responsible eyewitnesses. If a story is found to be untrue, it is disqualified, but particularly amusing ones are placed in the urban legend section of the archives. Despite this requirement, many of the stories are fictional,[citation needed] often appearing as “original submissions” and presenting no further sources than unverified (and unreliable[citation needed]) “eyewitnesses”. Most such stories on Northcutt’s Darwin Awards site are filed in the Personal Accounts section.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin_Awards

You are kinder than I am. I’m tired of all the idiots and how they have endangered others. I’ve become much blunter about the subject, but I still don’t wish this on anyone even the morons that refuse to get vaccinated.

At this point, I mainly kinda feel tired. Oh, here we go. Another preventable and pointless tragedy from the people who specialize in them.

They really raised the bar deciding that something with such a spectacular R0 didn’t need a lockdown or a quarantine, and they’ve really gone for gold since.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand why. It’s just too much senseless waste of human life for me to feel much of anything, anymore.

I’ve kind of given up hope, if you’re so completely brainwashed that you don’t listen to friends, family, co-workers, public health workers, the President, what hope is there for anyone changing your opinion?

At some point, I think we just have to let Passive Eugenics deal with the situation.

‘I don’t believe in Leopards! They’re a liberal media conspiracy to make us afraid! I won’t live in fear!’

Why would we be shocked to find out that a Leopard ate your face?

I also don’t believe that they’re good people, how could you be when you willful ignore your friends and family who are trying to protect you and them from a global pandemic. It’s right in the name, it’s not a right or left pandemic, it’s global..

How do I muster compassion for the willfully unvaccinated? By remembering the wisdom of Mr. Miyagi: “No such thing as bad student. Only bad teacher.”

Even the unfortunate Mr. Farrel had some spectacularly bad teachers.

That doesn’t excuse the behavior, of course. As I said, it only allows me to feel a modicum of compassion–which, I find, serves me far better than rage.

As a Brit I don’t know Farrel but there are plenty of his kind causing the same havoc here in Europe. So I would reserve my sympathy for those affected by the anti-vaxers, and simply hope that until the anti-vaxers change their tune, their deathbed conversions might at least save a few lives.

As for the people who swallow their lies, here’s an interesting take from Professor Brooke Harrington of Dartmouth College on why it’s so hard to shake people out of their anti-vax beliefs:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/aug/09/convince-anti-vaxxers

Maybe a few more anti-vaxers recanting on their deathbeds is simply the price that has to be paid to reach the rest of these people.

@Dan

Actually, I think Fox News has a vaccine mandate? Not sure, but I’ve heard it somewhere. So Tucker Carlson is likely vaccinated.

Anyways, I never got why the GOP politicians and those right-wing talking heads are so keen on people not vaccinating. Because indirectly killing their base is, by any metric, bad for viewership and voter numbers?

Sorry for being callous, but just trying to think like them…

This variant has an R=0 of somewhere between 5 and 9, meaning that on average the infected are also infecting as few as 5 and as many as 9 people before they go. They aren’t dying in a vacuum, they are drunk drivers careening down the highway destroying families. We could have been nearly through with this shit already, instead we’re looking at 2020 all over again with rising death counts, distancing and masking for the undetermined future. I save my sympathy for those who can’t get vaccinated due to age, health, financial or geographical reasons and for an entire generation of health care workers who are exhausted and burned out. It’s going to be hard to replace the nurses and techs who die or quit. Dick Farrells are a dime a dozen.

I agree with most (all?) of what has been said. Personally, I have pretty much given up on trying to educate or motivate anti-vaxxers to get vaccinated. At some point, they are no longer worth the effort.

Do I feel bad if one dies, sure. I feel bad when nearly anybody dies. As John says, there are some who the world is better off without. But that is not your average Trump cult member, who has chosen to be their own victim.

So if they want to die to “own the Libs”, be my guest.

In many countries outside North America and Europe, it’s still very hard to get vaccine doses.

So there’s another category: people who want the vaccine, but their country or region can’t get access to enough of it.

North American and European governments could have pushed for patent waivers, so every country with capacity could manufacture enough for them and their neighbours.

But instead, we prioritised the massive profits of pharmaceutical companies.

I bet those government leaders and company executives are all vaccinated, too.

https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/why-we-should-grant-patents-on-covid-19-vaccines

I’m just infuriated with the unvaccinated (with the Col Snuggledorf exception).

The rate of vaccinations per day has dropped 3M since the peak, we could be done by now. Instead we’re stuck in an entirely preventable 4th wave, courtesy of Faux News and the GQP, the majority of which are vaccinated yet spew anti-vax bullcrap.

The Feds need to hammer on restrictions for unvaccinated – no domestic air travel without vaccination (or medical waivers), no concerts, no trains, etc. Time to take the kid gloves off and force people to get vaccinated. I’d also like the health insurance companies to go “nuh-uh” to covid costs of health care for the unvaccinated, but that won’t work as the rest of us will end up paying for it through higher costs.

I think the only thing that will make any significant difference is if Sturgis (or something similar) turns into an undeniable clusterf superspreader event too large to be denied. But of course it will be denied, the usual justification for someone who dies from COVID is:

1) they were old
2) they were obese
3) they just died with COVID, not because of it
4) the hospital is lying and it was something else
5) they were unhealthy
All trying to convince themselves it wasn’t being unvacinated.

(Yes I know about Lollapalooza too, I’d have avoided it like the plague, but they did require evidence of vax, or negative test, and it does appear that it wasn’t a huge driver (so far)

The story I’m waiting for is the one where the anti-vaxxer in ICU says just before he’s intubated (and eventually dies); “Fuck you. I’d do it all again. I’ll see you all in hell.”

There is a bigger picture here, which I feel does not get enough attention. The very reason we have a delta variant in the first place, is that there was some place, and some people, who failed to take adequate precautions, and their version of the virus mutated in their bodies (which is the only way viruses can replicate), and so spread to others a more infectious version of COVID.

Far too many people forget the sheer panic that took hold in 2003 with the first SARS outbreak, a coronavirus that seemed to be killing between 5 and 10% of its victims. This latest coronavirus, COVID-19 could mutate to a variant that kills a higher percentage of its victims. However, in order to do that, it needs victims to reproduce in, and mutate in. The pool of morons in the US who not only refuse to vaccinate, but simultaneously indulge in behaviours likely to accelerate the spread of any variants they incubate, will likely be the cause of death of many millions in the long run, even if the mutations they engender are merely as bad as the delta variant. The toll could be astronomical if they produce a SARS-03 like variant.

Countries like Trinidad and Tobago, where my parents live, have very little access to the vaccines. My parents, who are in their 80s, were very fortunate to get “early access” to the Astra Zeneca vaccine in July 2021. Less than 3% of their population is fully vaccinated, and the country is still under lockdown. I was not even able to go to my brother’s funeral (cancer). Yet we have a country with a stockpile of millions of doses in freezers and a bunch of idiots refusing them. I have two nephews who have “long covid”, and a brother-in-law who caught it days after his second vaccine from a co-worker who refused the vaccine (and had only a minor sickness as a result).

I have no sympathy for them, only antipathy. I do not wish them death. I only wish that they somehow do not infect others on their journey, and that they are chastened by their experience and reconsider their life choices.

I feel nothing for those who get very ill and / or die of covid, who ate all the Big Lies and refused the truth.

I feel absolutely terrible for the health care workers pushed beyond their limits, trying to save the lives of these jerkwaddies, while they and their families rail at them that it isn’t covid and covid is a lie, and they are short-staffed not because the frontline health workers have burned out after week after week of 12 hour shifts, but quit because they were mandated to get vaccinated. I weep for these heroic, unsung, unappreciated people.

Fine words. I’m of the same mind as you.

I’ve always puzzled over supporters of authoritarian types thinking they will be doing the crushing. They always end up beneath the boot heel, or dying on some hill in a faraway land. For what? The opportunity to be a rectum for a few years? Pretty low IQ territory, that.

Here’s hoping the authoritarian types fail.

I know I’d like the vaccine, and will take it as soon as I can, but I’m in the medically advised against taking it group right now. I’m undergoing medical tests for a possible condition, and if it is what they think it is right now, then I can’t be vaccinated. If it turns out to be something else, and I can safely take the vaccine then I will have it as soon as humanly possible thereafter. Just being in the maybe range is doing a number on my stress though.

I feel guilty for not being vaccinated as I don’t have a definitive diagnosis to rule it out yet, and also low grade terrified everytime I go out and see people unmasked or with droopy masks that don’t cover their noses. Why will people not cover their damn noses? I don’t go out a lot, and this round of tests cannot be concluded quick enough for me. Get vaccinated, wear masks properly, that is my life goals right now.

Mr. Scalzi,

I appreciate your distinction between wishing death on assholes and being totally okay with hearing about the deaths of said assholes. I’m not a perfect person by any stretch of the imagination, but I strike to not with harm on any person.

On the other hand, although I remained blissfully ignorant of this Dick Farrel asshole, he sounds like the type of person who would have graduated to my Wouldn’t Piss On Him If He Were On Fire list.

@Davem, there has been more than one report of an antivaxxer raging about how what they have isn’t really COVID, or God will help them beat COVID without any dumbass vaccine, and so on, who then went on to die.

@David Graham: Being pro-eugenics is not a good look, even if you try to smear Vaseline on the lens by calling it “passive eugenics”. Perhaps you were not aware that, in a political sense, that is exactly what the previous administration did as an excuse for letting the pandemic rage on?

Regarding group #2, yes, people were fed a line of bullshit, but (again, setting aside those who have darn good reason to be skeptics) – it’s a line of bullshit they wanted to hear.

Not the Reddit Chris S: I’ll add one more falsehood to your list.

Some of the Covid deniers are saying that nurses and doctors are deliberately poisoning people to kill them. So that the pro-vaxxers can claim that these people died from the Covid virus.

Freedom also implicity entails accepting responsibility for the consequences of the actions/decisions made employing that freedom. The consequences are generally more along the lines of maximizing the utils my econ profs lectured me about (do they include any behavorial economics in undergrad these days?), but sometimes the consequences can be life-altering.

I’ve mentioned it on your blog before but it’s worth repeating: the guy I hired to mow my rental properties over a year ago missed mowing for a month and when I contacted him about it he admitted to having Covid and pneumonia. I fired him on the spot, in part because he was too stupid to get a FREE lifesaving vaccine that had been available for 6 months, and for potentially putting my tenants at risk (they’re all vaccinated as required by a new part of their lease agreement, but still) but mostly because he hid the fact from me and allowed my lawns to become overgrown, probably because he feared that I might FIRE HIM! [Note: the guy I hired to replace him is from Guatemala, is here legally, busts his ass, is a consummate professional and does a much better job than Covid-guy. Oh, and the new guys has been vaccinated!]

To add something that may have already been addressed by other commenters (or not; I’m on the West Coast, so by the time I get to the internet, most hot takes and/or funny comments have been taken already), I think the category of willingly unvaccinated can be divided further into two subgroups (also; this is hardly a unique take, as I’ve seen variations around the nets):
1. The hesitant, comprising mostly (but not exclusively) people, especially people of color, who have justified distrust of the medical system, due to past bad behavior by the system or by the distressingly continuing pattern of less-bad-bad-but-still-bad behavior—such as the fact that doctors are far more likely to not believe a Black patient who says they are in pain than a White patient.
2. The unwilling, comprising mostly (but not exclusively) the ignorant/bamboozled and more than a few grifting jerkwads who are complete morons into the bargain.
Of the two subgroups, the hesitant may be convinced to become vaccinated by time, events (FDA full approval/death in the family), or incentives (here’s some more money) or disincentives (no public transportation for you until you get jabbed).
The unwilling are, I’m afraid, a lost cause as a group. Like members of other cults, removing and deprogramming them is a long, complicated and highly individualistic process. It can happen, and some number may have a change of heart if COVID affects someone close to them, but 60 million people will take a lot of time to reach one by one, and the virus is moving a lot faster than that. We’re watching natural selection sped up to fit within a timeframe that’s easy for us to encapsulate, rather than tens or hundreds of thousands of years.

But, you know, my thinking is not magical. If I wished somebody dead (which I mostly don’t), I am not actually bringing them any closer to death, as the persistence in life of at least one American narcissist proves.
No, what I am rather more ashamed of is the traitorous sense of relief that this skews the demographic of the voting pool slightly against the Republicans.

Disclosures:
1. 72yo white, cranky old fart living in SC who’s fully vaccinated.
2. Recently (three weeks ago) diagnosed with colon cancer.

Comment:
I’m scheduled for surgery in two weeks. If those ignorant-ass redneck assholes overflow the hospital beds/icu facilities so that my surgery is cancelled or postponed, I WILL NOT BE HAPPY.

regards –

Dave

Those who willfully refuse to get vaccinated and who cause the death of another because of medical issues, and economic issues, have committed at least voluntary manslaughter and more likely second-degree murder (assume that a jurisdiction has that crime on the books). More than one death? Lifetime in prison, no possibility of parole (Not a death penalty fan, but that option could arise if the murders/deaths occurred in Texas, I believe). And while I may have this wrong, I believe that they would get vaccinated in prison due to a health risk to others (although any/some/all states might not have a policy in place).

Unpopular view: Bad for the dead? Not at all. Suicide by covid is a choice and I accept it. I reserve my sympathy for their victims; which includes their family, friends, and any they infected along the way.

John,

Enjoyed your comments today about folks who die even though the vaccine was available. You mention that some folks are ignorant and that’s why they maybe didn’t get vaccinated. There’s plenty of information out there about the vaccine and how to get vaccinated. At this point one must be willfully avoiding the information, deciding one know’s better than all those horrible scientists who are clearly trying to wipe out humanity or listening to folks who have zero expertise or, as you note, have ulterior motives for intentionally deceiving others. This is not ignorance. It is ok to be ignorant as it simply means one does not know about a thing. Y’know, like, “Gosh I failed to understand how gravity works and that’s why I ended up plummeting to my death when I backed up too far for a photo at the edge of the Grand Canyon.” Hey, the dude didn’t know about gravity, he was ignorant–ok. Willfully ignoring readily available information about the COVID-19 vaccines and choosing to follow unqualified a-holes on a right-wing mouthpiece website or station is not ignorant…it’s stupid. So those folks are, as unfortunate as it is to call a spade a spade here, stupid. As to whether or not we should feel sorry for stupid people who die due to their own, self-imposed stupidity, that’s above my pay grade. Great thought-invoking post, thank you!

I’ve been thinking about the anti-vaxxers, etc. all day, since we returned from our first and only time out of the City since the pandemic. Every single moment was happiness and delight, even while sleeping, as the windows were open and the temps at night fell into the 50’s. We were hosted by a wonderful person, our wonderful friend, whom I’ve not seen since 2019. We did nothing but stay almost always within the screened in annex to the house. Some of his vaccinated local friends whom he’s known forever, came for mid-afternoon conversations; all professional in theater, history, literature, academia, music — conversations such as I’ve not experienced in nearly two freakin’ years! Witty, sharp, educated, intelligent, insightful — and fun!

The world as I’ve been pretty much knowing it for nearly two years fell away, among leaves, and quiet, and the bubbling swimming pool, hummingbirds, Monarch butterflies and locovore food, from which we made all our meals.

Then we came home to the intensified bad news about Delta and freedum USA. I realized, once again, They are stealing Thanksgiving and holiday joy from me. They are making yet again getting together with our friends will not be able to happen. Again.

Why am I to cry for people who deliberately destroy my life and all that is meaningful to me? Never.

Do I NEED to say the exceptions are kids, immuncompromised, people whose history is the government literally screwing them the way These people are even screwing their own kind now?

They bioweaponized as a political ruse the virus, and there They are, making money out it, willing to kill Their own kind. But as long as Their own kind kill Us too, it’s all good.

That’s how this all began. Kushner & Co. were convinced it was only people of color, the poor and blues who get covid. The more sick, dead and invalided the fewer voters for blue issues.

Frackin’ jerkwaddies. Virii do not care what color you are or which column you vote.

This is all very personal for me. My parents live in the rural South, deep in Trump, Fox, and denialism country. My mom got vaxxed at the first opportunity, but my dad still refuses. The same man who raised me to not believe everything one sees on television, now repeats Fox BS as indisputable truth. He is putting his own immunocompromised grandson at risk, so none of the family will visit my parents, due to his refusal to get vaccinated, but he only digs in harder. We’re completely at a loss. At this point, I’m actively hoping enough of his idols die and deathbed recant their denialism that dad finally gets vaccinated. Or he dies. Horrible, and I hate feeling and thinking this way, but so many of my friends and family have gotten sick, died, or are in long term care from COVID-19, that I am just DONE. My own father is part of the problem and that’s a terrible weight to carry while I wait for updates on whether my best friend’s husband is responding to stimulus this week. (Pre-vaccine he got COVID-19, has post-Covid life-threatening complications. Sucktastic.) I feel guilty, and angry, and sad, and tired, and resentful… All the feels. And I miss my parents. I want to visit them, but I can’t, and… Argh.

This fucking country.

Call me an amused historian, but I see two people have mentioned “eugenics” from the word eu meaning good, and gen.

Back in the day, if you were one of those scandalous “free thinkers” such as George Bernard Shaw who was a member of the fabian society (for slow socialism) or Eleanor Roosevelt who got “Eleanor’s troops” (African-Americans) permission to go into combat, then you too might believe in eugenics as they did.

Given that I am myself the sort who is asked to join left-wing movements, this can be a humbling ironic fact.

What Colonel Snuggeldorf said.

Don’t encourage systemic inequities in the US by leaving out the people for whom a day off work (either to get the vaccine or deal with the effects) is a serious economic blow. That’s a really intensely privileged position to take.

Your parsing of this makes sense to me, John. When I see that one of these folks (could have been vaccinated, chose not to be for bad reasons) has died, I generally sigh and hope that they didn’t infect others with COVID-19.

I didn’t mourn Justice Scalia for a second. While he was alive, I hoped that he would decide to become a Catholic theologian and resign from the bench.

Regarding various suggestions above about not treating vaccine refusers: I can’t agree. I do not believe in punitive exclusions from health care. The US already has a terrible system of providing health care and I don’t want it made even worse. Such a step would lead to refusing health care to, say, people who smoked who have smoking-related illnesses. Nope. I mean, I want people to quit smoking and to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but I think it would be very wrong to exclude them from treatment.

John you are kinder than I. And to all who have issues with the dying, I’ll use Dan’s quote (though not picking on him generally or specifically) “they do not deserve the punishment of death”. Everyone dies, how and when are rarely under our control; here they had a choice, they were not punished. They chose bias confirmation and what made them feel good, in power and in control, and it killed quite a number of people – breaking news more to come.

I do not wish them dead, but at least 1.6% of them are leaving this mortal coil (perhaps more considering the population and their habits). I expect them to die and that their deaths will be a hard lesson to those they leave behind. Ignorance of the law leads to incarceration, ignorance of the laws of nature has more severe consequences. And “I don’t trust the gub’mnt” is not an excuse even for those who don’t trust big whatever or the man. Every government said this is a pandemic, every reputable medical authority in the world sourced proper public health practices (I’m sure some person will find an aberration and attempt to nullify this with the exception; just don’t). Sticking your fingers in your ears is not the proper response as many will and are discovering.

This is one of the first cullings we are going to experience as we enjoy the inevitable progression of the climate crisis and its ladies in waiting. Covid, which should have been our “alien invasion” our rallying cry to join the world in common cause, paving the way to a cooperative solution to ameliorate the climate crisis. It has been hijacked by the ignoratti at the behest of a corrupt, venal real estate developer (a paragon of virtue). Covid was not hard to beat, if we just cooperated a little, for the common good (but mah freedoms).

If we are to accept and interpret conventional scientific wisdom, the round is in the air, it is aimed right at our collective head, but the time of flight is a decade or two off and well America says “we ain’t got time for that”. Civilization structured as we know it is soon over, does it become Mad Max or Morlocks in the middle east? To counter this reality (currently the most probable) innovation, determination, and cooperation is required. I’m seriously having my doubts about our ability to pull off the last requirement.

I have been watching climate change for 30 years. Almost every prediction has come to pass sooner than expected (I’ve stopped watching too closely, too irritating). Kids and the immunocompromised you have my sympathies. But, if a metric shit ton of misguided fools have to die to make the mentally unwashed sit up and take notice, then those deaths, while tragic, are not meaningless. Who could have imagined the anti-vaxers would control the issue? Apparently, they have spawned an anti-germ theory movement now (Gaudeamus Igitur fades up). Maybe we just let them play with the nuclear football, ripping off the bandage may not be so bad at this point.

The Colonel Snuggledorf exception or distinction or what have you is no difference at all. The woke grifters are selling the same sort of garbage to their people as the right-wing grifters are selling to theirs. If you’re telling Black people that society is irredeemably racist so that they’re not willing to trust the “white” medical establishment, you are killing them just as surely as those who make people fear microchips in the vaccines.

I am 100000% sympathetic with group 1. Herd immunity is the only thing that protects them, which is why I can’t give even half a damn about group 2 and especially want Karma to hit group 3.

Guess John, you are a better man than I.

A one-level-back point:

Dealing with active-vaccine-deniers reminds me a lot of dealing with the kewl kidz in high school. You know, the ones who’ve been driving their parents’/siblings’ cars since they were 12, skipped school on their 16th birthday to go to the DMV to get a license, and are daredevil showoffs. They’re never going to have an automotive mishap; they’re too good, too kewl, for that sort of thing to happen. If they ever become parents, they’re the ones with the “My sixth grader beat up your sixth grader” bumper stickers. They’re gonna live forever (giving away my age: They’re “Born to Run”).

At least until the funeral.

Yes, I am saying that Category 3 wankers never grew up. They’re still in high school (including the cliques, and probably the smoking out behind the gym). They don’t do their homework, and probably take the least-challenging-possible set of electives (they’re not the ones taking Wood Shop actually trying to develop skills at woodworking). They believe both in their own invincibility and their obligation to make others act and think just like they do.

I previously thought that maybe enough of the denialists get sick and recant/die that maybe it would move some people. I’ve been disabused of that notion. Yesterday there was a story about a bodybuilder/fitness guru who refused to vaccinate, ~35-40, peak physical condition, he got covid and was dead 10 days later. His twin sister was on twitter telling people this and begging them to vaccinate. The reaction? The hospital murdered him. Did he get vitamins C, D and zinc? That would have cured him. Not to mention Hydroxychloroquine. Hope you got a list of the poisons they gave him lady.

I’ve given up. We should all be shot into the sun.

all I can say is, as a non-American who struggled to obtain the vaccine, whose country still struggles to get enough vaccine, whose vaccine demand has skyrocketed beyond supply, whose neighbors struggle getting their citizens vaccines, who witnesses stories like this, and stories of US states throwing away vaccines because no one else wants to get vaccinated… is that this is all an unmitigated waste.

As for people having a vested financial interest in persuading others to believe in social media against vaccines, remember one of the first anti-vaccine stories?

It was back in 1998 that a doctor reported that vaccines cause autism. Even though his study sample was only—count ’em—12 children, and even though the issue has since then been exhaustively researched and debunked… the social media readers are still “true believers” about the autism-vaccine link.

As for conflict of interest, the guy did not reveal, as he was ethically bound to do, that, as the Washington reported someone hearing him say, “(he) predicted he could make more than 43 million dollars from selling test kits.”

He has been forbidden from practising medicine in Britain.

I confess I have not told my friends about this false study, nor told them not to believe in social media. Was I too polite? Too scared? When covid came along last year that was my chickens coming home to roost.

I think it’s never too late to start spreading the word that social media is not as accountable as traditional media.

I have a hard time feeling bad for people who refuse to get vaccinated and then pass from Covid, but I wonder how I’m gonna feel if my Trump follower sister gets this, and the worst happens. There are 6 of us siblings left, and it would be horrible if we lost another from something that is preventable. We have talked ourselves blue in the face, as have her children, but she is so dug in, we just can’t make an impact. I’m sure there are many folks in my position with relatives who won’t do the smart thing. It’s just maddening.

On a related note, here’s a headline from the Washington Post just now: “Lamar Jackson, back after his second bout with coronavirus, remains unsure about vaccine”

HOW CAN YOU STILL BE UNSURE?!?! HOW CAN THE VACCINE POSSIBLY BE ANY WORSE THAN HAVING IT TWICE?!?

Also, an online friend of mine who is anti-vax is now being required by her work to get it, and now she wants to sue. Honestly, I feel like she’s gone mentally ill (literally) in the last month or so, as she is spouting a lot of crazy stuff as opposed to the occasional thing that gave us all side-eye. She’s not affecting me if she doesn’t get the vaccine/gets Covid, per se, but honestly, both our other mutual friend and I are kinda like about to give up on her if she’s going down the crazy train. Not that there’s anything we can do about that. If she’d rather risk death than get it, how can you argue with that level of thinking?

I had Covid last Nov and am still having issues because of it. Trust me, I would not wish it on my worse enemy. When I read the bs reasons why people don’t want the vaccine I shake my head and realize that we have a very serious mental health crisis in this country. We have people who have a cult mentality who have bought into the disinformation and lies. It’s sad that many people like this are going to die.

I save my rage for the politicians who know better and are purposely putting into place policies that are going to get people killed all to score political points, though I don’t see what the end game is for them. Do you think people are going to vote for you when you kill their children? I guess we are about to find out. What is infuriating is that it did not have to be this way.

It really stinks that the people that genuinely cannot get a vaccine are placed in so much more risk because of a group of bullshit peddlers that want engagement over the safety of vulnerable lives.

It’s sad to such a large group bought into it, I know trust in politicians is low, and that’s not without merit, but there’s a difference – if your car breaks down you don’t go consult with a radio blowhard, You go to a garage.

If its expected to rain you can complain that politicians are fucking up the environment, but you still bring a raincoat.

I don’t wish death on the peddlers of bullshit, but I’d rather not have our nurses and health proffessionals be inundated with it, to the point they won’t be able to cope when invariably people that take all precautions, or cannot be protected get hurt by it – and there’s no room.

It’s just so preventable, I don’t wish them death, I don’t wish them not having access to health-care. But I do wish there’d be some bloody consequence to their disregard for the lives of their fellow people.

I won’t mourn them either.

A comment by Abraham Lincoln springs to mind regarding people in Group 3:

Must I shoot a simple-minded soldier boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of a wiley agitator who induces him to desert? This is none the less injurious when effected by getting a father, or brother, or friend, into a public meeting, and there working upon his feeling, till he is persuaded to write the soldier boy, that he is fighting in a bad cause, for a wicked administration of a contemptable government, too weak to arrest and punish him if he shall desert. I think that in such a case, to silence the agitator, and save the boy, is not only constitutional, but, withal, a great mercy.

I find it darkly humorous that so many of these free-thinkers who refuse to be taken in by Big Medicine and Big Pharma don’t have a problem being taken to a hospital for treatment. Farrell, I believe, died in one. You’d think that they would insist on staying home in bed and refusing to surrender to the evil doctors or whatever.

So now Mrs. Farrell might have an interesting time with her husband’s health insurance company when they read about his views. It’s really only a matter of time before the insurance industry puts a halt to a lot of this anti-vaxxing nonsense by refusing to pay out or by requiring you to sue someone/anyone for false claims about vaccines.

@Lisa Hirsch — “…I do not believe in punitive exclusions from health care.”

However, Their refusal to be vaccinated and practice any of the recognized safety protocols to minimize the opportunity for infection by the virus has taken over the entire health care system so that people with other conditions can’t even see doctors proactively, cannot schedule surgeries, cannot get emergency room treatments and beds.

In wars and battlefield injuries there is the traumatic practice of triage: the medical people have to make split second decisions over whom may live and who is unlikely to live, in order that those more likely to survive with treatment do survive, which means not treating those most severely hurt. Now, due to Their choices, those who would be most likely to survive, cannot get medical care because what little health system we have is overwhelmed by Their choices. I am living with the consequences of this very up close and personal over the course of the last two years, including two people literally dead of cancers that they’d likely survived if they’d been able to see a doctor in the winter of 2020.

In other words, we are the ones being medically punished by Them, and not only medically: our employment, our friendships, our professional lives, everything is negatively affected by Their choices. They, on the other hand, aren’t affected at all — except when They get ill and / or die — and They still hold us responsible. No hard lessons learned, as @Hillary expects. They expire cursing us and the government and blaming both us and the government.

There is no healing the nation of this, ever, one thinks, even if the virus finally recedes.There will be more pandemic illness, as well as famine, flood and fire. We seem to have entered a planet-wide 6th-7th century when the horsemen of the Apocalypse trampled most of what became Europe under hoofs. A terrible time to have tried to live. With climate change and all the other self-destructive, toxic, abusive and wantonly cruel beliefs They hold, we still will be punished by the earth no longer able to carry us — any of us. Not that this matters a whit, as the 0.0;% who are the only ones who matter, believe They shall escape into space. Ha!

Perhaps this explains why so many have joined the Death Cult, happy to be suicide domestic terrorists even to destroying themselves and their own families. O Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the Orange Shoggoth, O the woes and miseries you all have wrought, rubbing yourselves gleefully the entire time.

“I will shoot myself in the foot right now, right here in front of you,” the fool says, “and I will shoot you if you try to stop me. After I have shot myself, I will fire other bullets in random directions without concern that they will strike others.”

What am I to do?

My stepdad died of it in mid-February, before vaccines were introduced. He was 67, retired for four years, was physically powerful, as you’d have to be to do his sideline of concrete work three seasons out of the year, and was meticulous about masks and hand sanitizer. He was on a ventiIator for six weeks, the last half of that time displaying no higher brain function. My mother had to make the decision to turn off the machine.

She has Parkinson’s and he was her main caregiver, so now she has to move to a retirement home as their house is too much to maintain on her own. He never got to hear of my engagement, so my fiancée and I were reduced to telling him about it via FaceTime. More accurately, we told the screen image of a brain-dead man laying in the ICU. There will be a gaping hole in the guest list this November, and that’s assuming there won’t be more gathering restrictions by then.

I won’t wish for the deaths of the Covidiots, which naturally excludes the groups of people outlined above, e.g. the under-12s and those for whom vaccines are contraindicated. But I admit to smiling at the prospect of them getting sufficiently sick to require intubation for a finite time, and to have a long-ish bout with symptoms afterward. If they want pity during that ordeal, they can look in the dictionary. It’s somewhere between ‘piss’ and ‘pus’.

Mark Twain once said that a lie can travel the world before truth puts its pants on. A hundred years later, a million lies do the same thing and the internet just makes it so much harder for the truth to prevail.

Like you, I also would not wish death on any person, but Mr. Farrel shouted his opinions and “facts” loud and clear before his last second conversion; it came back to bite him and unfortunately will bite many of his adherents. Darwinism at work.

The one group of people important to this conversation not addressed are those who will not get vaccinated “for religious reasons.” I am no expert on world religions but know of no sacred writings that address vaccination in even the most general of terms. Also, if born in the US these people are almost certainly vaccinated against measles and perhaps other infections.

“If it takes more deaths like his for it to sink in, at least they will not be entirely useless deaths. ”

Probably won’t happen. One important recent finding from psychology is that people by and large do not arrange their beliefs to conform with the evidence. They arrange the evidence to conform with their beliefs. Even disconfirming evidence tends to make beliefs stronger, not weaker.

The only case in which this is not true is when the ONLY evidence is disconfirming. Good luck getting that in this world.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022103118304529

John,

I don’t know (nor do I care) whether you’re a better man than I, but you’re certainly a better writer (as are many others on this blog). Thank you for yet another excellent and thoughtful post, with which I agree. As I do with most of your others, although certain burritos, not so much.

That said,

“No one deserves to die.” And yet, sooner or later, everyone does. It seems to me that this irresolvable dichotomy is central to all the great religions.

It’s unlikely to be solved anytime soon. Meanwhile, perhaps, we could consider a different basic tenet:

“No one has the right to determine the manner of death of another, nor to adversely contribute to, implement, or effect that death.”

Seems to cover most of the bases–“adversely” leaves room for the (admirable, in my opinion) Death With Dignity movement. And there’s room to stick in an Asimovian “through inaction” clause if you want.

Guess my take is that if you can can get the vaccine but don’t? The world is a better place without you, and I only regret that you’ve infected others while discovering that “only 1% die” in a population of 331M still equals over 3 Million deaths…

…and that’s all on you.

“Wishing death upon people almost always makes you the asshole.”

I will argue that this one falls into the gap for “almost.” These people aren’t just ignorant or dumb. These people are actively spreading a plague that has already killed 600,000+ Americans. Almost every time someone dies of their own stupidity, it is an impact on them, and only them. This time their stupidity is killing everyone else, and ensuring we can’t come out of the pandemic without great risk to our own selves and families.

Wishing death on them? I don’t know, but I sure as heck don’t feel bad about it, and I view their removal from this mortal coil as a general improvement for everyone else.

I wish we could legislate that there be shows with the facts aired after one of these assholes has died. He has an angry radio show? Have his doctor on, his wife on, the person he expressed regret to. Air a show from his ICU room. That would help break the thrall. I have suggested that local schools have a vaccination van in the weeks ahead of school opening to vaccinate all staff. I want us also to make an effort to vaccinate every country in the world. We need to push for a whole world solution.

The radio talk show host should be part of group 2, not group 3. He put his money where his mouth was. It is people like certain governors and Congresspeople, who believe in the vaccine enough to get it themselves, but who won’t promote the vaccine for the public good that should be in group three.

“Wishing death on them? I don’t know, but I sure as heck don’t feel bad about it, and I view their removal from this mortal coil as a general improvement for everyone else.”

It’s hard for me to …. well, if someone being alive is causing a lot of other people to die…. I can’t exactly weep with sadness if somehow that person didn’t make it. If the world is literally better off without you in it…

I have a friend who is a nurse on an acute ward in Louisiana and is currently getting slammed with Covid patients – he has worked all the waves and got Covid himself during the first. His perspective is that it is actually very normal to take care of people who are in the hospital because of bad decisions they have made – diabetic / renal failure patients who don’t follow care plans, COPD patients who continue to smoke, alcoholics with liver disease etc. The difference he sees with the anti-vax/anti-mask COVID patients is they also put others at risk, both people they know and people they will never know by spreading the virus…

There is a subgroup of 2 who are being actively reached out to now: agricultural workers.

These communities are often not primarily English speaking, so they genuinely might not have gotten the information that the vaccine is available and free (not all of these communities speak common languages like Spanish, either, so it can be hard to find good translators).

Agricultural workers (along with everyone else who works on a “line”) also have the challenge of not having any sick time, so they’re reasonably concerned that if they have a reaction to the vaccine, they’ll get fired, and then they’re up a creek.

Right now there are groups reaching out to these communities to get both information and vaccines out there, and there is a push for the industries that are major employers in these communities to offer vaccine-specific sick leave.

That still doesn’t help the person who works three or four jobs at very small employers (who are exempt from most leave requirements), but it is a step in the right direction.

I have a lot of sympathy for people who want the vaccine but can’t get it for some understandable reason. I have absolutely NO sympathy for people who don’t get the vaccine for any other reason, especially if it’s because they get their information from Fox, OAN, or FB.

Also, since I’m not a very nice person, if I were in charge of hospitals and a person who refused to get vaccinated for no good reason showed up with COVID, I’d suggest he go sit under a tree in the parking lot while this kid got a splinter removed from his finger. I’d also inform the person that in his case we no longer accepted his insurance and would like a down payment in advance on his bill.

@Dana:
“Not so sure about the ‘day off work’ thing, the local Walmarts has walk-in vaccinations, free. Stop after work, get the shot, go home.”

When is “after work” for you? Say around 5 or 5:30 pm? What about people who work shift work? What about people who have to go pick up their kids from daycare? What about people who have a reaction to the vaccine? I had a horrible reaction to my 2nd shot – I described it to people as the worst hangover I’ve ever had combined with the worst case of flu I’ve ever had for 24 hours. My company gave us an additional 8 hours of sick leave for getting the vax or dealing with after effects. A lot of people don’t have that available to them.

You might want to check that privilege. :)

My uncle died from Covid before the vaccines were out yet. I think if he were alive, he would be one of the ones who would refuse to get one. My cousin refuses to get one. He says he has had covid. Another cousin of mine can’t get the vaccine because of health reasons.

One of our county commissioners says he refuses to get one because the FDA hasn’t fully approved of them yet and he needs more time to “research” them. He also admitted not wearing a mask all the time. He is the one who wanted our county to reopen so badly. He proves my theory that smart people have no common sense.

Mr. Scalzi you seem to be a better man than I am.

I have a friend whose brother died of Covid this past Thursday night/Friday morning. He was mid fifties and had no other health issues. He was also un-vaccinated. I have no idea why he was not vaccinated. If he bought into all the BS out there, or maybe simple apathy. I have sympathy for my friend (who is vaccinated). I have sympathy for my friend’s parents who lost their son, his sister-in-law who is also sick but is expected to survive, and I have sympathy for his nieces and nephews who lost their father. But I have no sympathy for my friend’s brother. For whatever reason he made a choice and suffered the consequences of that choice. I can only hope that his example will lead his family and friends to make a better choice.

@ Kara Hudso
My boyfriend’s dad got Covid 19 in late March 2020 and died alone in a hospital parking lot because there was no room in any hospital in NYC. He died about 2 weeks before his 62 wedding anniversary and left a wife, a son & daughter and his only grandchild devastated at the loss.

I would push a thousand of these willfully brain-dead f#ckers in front of a train if it would bring him back, starting with the shit-brindle orange turd who could have saved tens of thousands of people in the first 3 months alone if he had declared a pandemic and national lockdown at the beginning of March instead of the end. My boyfriend’s dad would have likely not gotten Covid 19 if the lockdown had started at the beginning of March–we know know (relatively speaking, within the degree of uncertainty) that he caught it at the doctor’s office for his routine but necessary checkups.

I’m still blind with rage every time I think about it. I found my family of choice and they were taken after far too brief a time.

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that sooner or later we will get a variant that blows right through the vaccine, not just a variant that makes the vaccinated mildly sick if that. The antivaxxers will be responsible for that. Not the unvaccinated–I can only imagine the rage and fury that Tariq must be feeling now–but the deliberate assholes who want to be “right” more than they want to live, or have their friends (make that “friends”–did Dick Farrell actually have any real friends or just people in proximity?), their families, fellow right wingnuts live as well.

When the real knockout variant shows up, it will hit the healthcare workers first, which will in turn have a ripple effect on the vaccinated and unvaccinated who need healthcare not related to Covid 19. Pregnant & want to have a birth in a hospital? You can play neonatal roulette. Most hospitals are not set up to isolate the air supply between wards. You need surgery, cancer treatment, even routine medical treatment that leaves you choosing between treating a problem BEFORE it gets serious & risking Covid infection or maybe putting off treatment with less optimal results. People are still making those choices every day. Those deaths are on the hands of the willfully ignorant antivaxxers. I agree 100% with Ken Hargrove’s assessment, that the antivaxxers & the willfully ignorant are drunk drivers careening down the road, taking out the innocent and the unlucky.

Sooner or later the hospitals are going to be overwhelmed again, due to the rising numbers of Covid patients. When that time comes–and it will, it happened in 2020 and at this rate, barring a miracle, it will again–it’s my position that the vaccinated should get prioritized healthcare over the unvaccinated. Our society works on the social contract. Antivaxxers & vaccine refusers are freeloaders. If you won’t (not can’t, won’t) take one for the team, you don’t get the benefits of human society either. Hospitals already made those hard choices in 2020 at peak infection rates. I’m just suggesting that the criteria for who gets treated or a hospital bed be a little different this time around. If that kills the antivaxxers, then it kills them. I won’t shed a tear for them, only the people, the dreams, the businesses that their selfishness took down with them. Let’s not lose sight of the social & financial consequences of antivaxxers’ attitudes–they leave broken, financially devastated families behind, they financially ruin small business owners–if you’ve sunk the last 20-30 years of your life into the shop, restaurant, blue-collar career, etc., it’s pretty hard if not impossible to start over again in your 40s, 50s 60s. You aren’t ready to retire but the job market is brutal to anyone over the age of 35. Antivaxxers are responsible for the suddenly single parents who are really feeling the financial loss of a partner’s income, the knowledge that someone has your back, the loss of a lifetime companion in your twilight years.

I recently watched Red River Road, an indy movie about a mysterious virus that attacks people on social media. (FYI, the entire film was shot by the whole family, in their home during lockdown.) It was clever, timely and on point–the people in lockdown, never leaving their homes, unable to contact or interact with others slowly start to leave the family home. Is it because they left? because they died? You are left wondering who is infected, who is hallucinating, if any of the virus is real. What breaks the spell, so to speak, is the loneliness. It’s empty in there. You wind up missing the missing so much that you are finally willing to take chances, to do the terrifying and the forbidden.

I mentioned the film to a coworker (POC, gay) whose father very much has the Tuskegee experiment in mind and refuses to be vaccinated. His mom and sisters all got vaccinated, as did my coworker. We kind of rolled our eyes together over his dad (& pointed out that if he was really worried, he should have gotten vaccinated when white liberals were climbing over each other to get vaccinated.) The bitter harvest of lingering racism aside, the black community really needs to let go, not because it will make white people feel better about themselves but because that particular belief grimly clung to will literally kill them. And everyone else of every color too. (See Red River Road. You can let go of beliefs, change your ideas. It is possible.)

Maybe it does make me the asshole but I can’t help but think if some of the prominent antivaxxers (the shitbrindle orange turd in particular) had died early on, as a prominent object lesson, how much better off the rest of us would be and how much higher the vaccination rate would be. We could have stopped this early on. Now Covid 19 in all it’s variant glory and carnage, is with us for the foreseeable future. So the future deaths are on these assholes too.

lately, as I’ve been doomscrolling there’s been moments of schadenfreude… petty of me… but heck I’ve been threatened by arsewipes unwilling to mask up and the police in my neighborhood consider themselves not only above-the-law but of such good blood they’ll never get bit by variants… so I am looking forward to when Ron “it only kills unnecessary people” DeSantis gets charged with a zillion counts of premeditated manslaughter and lives out his days in an orange jumpsuit, oh-my-yes such schadenfreude…

schadenfreude(v)
1) savoring someone else’s misfortune
2) combo of two German words schaden (harm) and freude (joy)
3) “I feel such sweet schadenfreude knowing what awaits Trump and his cronies”

doomscrolling(v)
1:AKA doomsurfing doomgoogling
2:act of consuming unending sequence of negative online news, to detriment of scroller’s mental wellness
3:dire search for clarity & facts
4:binge-watch as nations collapse
5:being foolish enough listen to entire Trump speeches

Sadly I agree. So this is what I’ve been doing, I’ve started telling those friends and family members who I can’t seem to be reach with facts, goodbye. I tell them all the things that are special about them and tell them how much I care or love them. I tell them how much they will be missed. I tell them, I am telling you all this because when you are hospitalized I will not be able to comfort you and tell you these things because I will not be allowed in nor will your family and you will quite possibly die. Will this change their mind? Out of the dozen or so, 2 friends did go and get vaccinated. But honestly I’m not doing it for them. It’s closure for me, so they know how I feel when they are gone.

@Jennifer
The boyfriend’s extended family relatives (not all of them, just one particular branch)
-refused to mask up after BF’s dad died
-refused to believe that Covid 19 was not a hoax
-refused to socially distance
-refused to get vaccinated
They ALL now have Covid 19 & the oldest one has already died. (Not sure at this point if there will be any more, still up in the air.)
NONE of them believe that they have Covid 19, and they don’t believe that the deceased died from Covid 19.
Yes, really.
They are still insisting that the late relative “died of old age”. Seriously!
(Well, he was old but he also died from Covid 19.) They are insisting that relative died from pneumonia & old age.
There is literally no reaching them (avid Faux News watchers, BTW–doubtless coming as a surprise to absolutely no one.)
They STILL won’t get vaccinated. Even after everyone in the immediate family got sick & one died.
My BF’s sister & niece already told the entire branch to never call them again. Sister asked them flat out what they though her dad died of & the response was “pneumonia.”
There are going to be people who will never get with the program, in exactly the same way that you have people who believe American astronauts never went to the moon or that Sandy Hook was fake & staged by actors. I mean, the mental disconnect floors me too but all things considered, it’s probably a short term problem for the antivaxxers.

@Ron Beilke

There is extensive Jewish writing on vaccines. For background, our sacred texts include not just the Torah but also rabbinical commentary and interpretation, ancient through modern, all of it on equal standing.

A recent responsa from the Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative Movement (a sect of Judaism, nothing to do with political opinion) obligates Jews to get vaccinated, and older commentary and rulings (from the polio vaccine era and earlier) say you must vaccinate yourself and your kids even if it means breaking the Sabbath to do so. (See @TheRaDR’s recent Twitter threads for more.) And more locally, many of my friends indicate that their rabbis have spent the last several months’ d’vars urging their congregations to get vaccinated.

I don’t wish death on the unvaccinated, but I sure don’t feel sorry for them either. They aren’t just killing themselves, they are spreading the virus to many, many others.

You’re a better man than I am, John. Yes, it’s a bad thing that people are dying. And no, gloating probably isn’t helping.

But what the fuck else are we supposed to be doing here?

We sacrificed a year of our lives in lockdown. We watched loved ones die or saw their health destroyed by long covid. We lost jobs. We lost our lifestyles, our workplaces, our bars and restaurants. We watched our Healthcare system bend, then buckle under the pressure of wave after wave of covid.

And then the vaccines came and we fought for months to get them. We took the hit fom the jabs and suffered the fevers and the pain in the hope that this would be the beginning of a return to normalcy. But it wasn’t.

Here we are, looking at another year or more of covid quarantine because, despite the general availability of the vaccine, idiots are refusing to take it. Their rationales are specious at best and downright insane at worst. They won’t listen to reason, facts, pleas from family or friends. Some die damning covid as a liberal hoax and some desperately beg for the jab once their precious lives are in danger, but at the end if the day what are we supposed to be doing to change their minds? We’ve tried. They won’t. And we’re tired.

We’re tired of their lies, conspiracy theories and illogic. We’re tired of being put at risk every day because they can’t be bothered to do something as trivial as wear a mask to protect their fellow humans. We’re tired of seeing operations canceled and nurses quitting because the unvaccinated are overflowing the ICUs with a completely preventable disease. We just want to get back to normal. And they’re determined to drag this out forever.

So yes, we are enjoying the schadenfreude of watching them die of covid after railing against the vaccines for the last year. What else have we got to enjoy from this last shitty, shitty year? And while it may be horrible that they’re dying, tell me what else were we supposed to have done? You can’t save someone determined to kill themselves. Our only regret is that they’re taking innocents with them.

Which means we can only hope they die faster. And no, that’s not a good thing.

But it’s all they’ve left us.

“But it’s all they’ve left us.”

No, we still have the rod of naked political power. Those who keep bleating about ‘my freedom!’ will be the very ones that precipitate the loss of freedom they so fear. ‘Vaccination passports’ will be the least of it.

I’ve dealt with enough of these people to know they don’t believe in ‘backlash’ either.

The conned will refuse to admit to themselves and others they have been conned. They won’t even complain or file law suits, because they are so smart they cannot be conned. When they see they have been conned then, they must refuse to admit their belief in their superiority to the rest of us was bs.

I’m seeing more articles, as one up just this morning on the Atlantic, by medical workers, who are finding dealing with these patients more and more difficult — though being the heroes and saints they are, they will continue to fight for those patients’ survival, that is, until they fall ill themselves and perhaps die, or just quit. They admit among themselves that these are not like patients who are suffering from diseases that are called life style illnesses, as from drug addictions, etc. Those patients hurt themselves. But these patients are hurting the whole world by THEIR CHOICE.

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